After spending alot of time in the library and in other schools libraries throughout my academic career i have noticed that there are many student who are forced to sit on the floor, in the middle of aisles, even in the stairways to study. This is appauling [sic], this does not provide an effective study environment when people have to sit on the floor because there are not enough desks or tables. Furthermore there is plently of area to put in more tables and desks on all floors. If the university as a whole wants to be known for academic excellence or even giving the opportunity for an individual to demonstrate academic excellence then something should be done. I have been to other univerisities that are bigger then VCU and this is not a problem I know that there are many other libraries on campus but this library desperately needs to be updated and action needs to be taken to step it up if you want people to succeed.
From: a graduate student
Pat Flanagan, Associate University Librarian for Public Services, responds...
Thank you very much for taking the time to send your comments. Your points about limited library space are well taken. Cabell Library offers the least square footage per student of any public university in Virginia. This is exacerbated by the fact that most universities free up some of their on campus space by storing lesser used portions of their collection in remote storage. VCU Libraries has neither the total square footage needed for its population nor remote storage for collections to help free up its on-campus buildings.
This situation has developed over time. Cabell Library was built in 1975, and because of the growth of library collections and the allocation of some of its space to University priorities, it now provides 40% less space for students than it did in 1975, for a student population that has doubled in size since that time. VCU's library buildings had an original planned capacity of 1 million volumes maximum, but now house nearly 2 million volumes, almost 200% of the planned capacity. These basic figures translate into a building that is very crowded, and where noise control and access to seating and to computers is a recurring issue.
The University Librarian is communicating these problems to university decision makers. The Provost understands the issues and to help in the short term funded over $300,000 for new furnishings last year which increased the quality and number of seats in the building.
Despite the difficult budget climate, we are very hopeful that library space needs, both at Cabell and Tompkins-McCaw Library, will be considered in upcoming fund raising and legislative funding cycles. Discussions about a new library building on the Monroe Park Campus focus almost exclusively on student space, technology-rich spaces, and inspiring, pleasant environments in which to study, interact, and learn. In the new building we will further address the needs of graduate students and faculty for whom there is such limited space within Cabell.
Currently, we are working hard to create a new vision for Cabell's second floor that will change the working environment significantly and help bridge the period until a new building can be funded and constructed. In the meantime, however, the crowding in Cabell, and the occasions where seating is not available are likely to continue, especially because we continue to break records for use - entries into Cabell now top 12,000 people per day at the height of the semester.